Returning with another diverse, auteur heavy line-up with their 66th edition, the Berlin International Film Festival continues to impress just as much with selections available outside of the titles competing for the coveted Golden Bear (including the festival’s second edition of a Critics’ Week, where the latest titles from Andrzej Zulawski and Philippe Grandrieux are playing). New items from Bence Fliegauf, Eugene Green, Anna Muylaert, Kiyoshi Kurosawa and Doris Dorrie are also significant highlights, but here’s a glance at my top five most anticipated.
#5. An Outpost of Progress – Dir. Hugo Vieira da Silva
Portuguese director Hugo Vieira da Silva returns with this adaptation of a Joseph Conrad story (the author considered this his best work), a tale of two colonial officials in a remote ivory trading post on the Congo. Conrad remains a difficult author to translate to the screen (some great exceptions from Coppola, Patrice Chereau, and Chantal Akerman notwithstanding), and this will be the first feature adaptation of this material (previously a short film version was made by Dorian Walker in 1982). Produced by Alfama Films, it promises to be one of the most notable titles playing in the Forum Program.
#4. Saint Amour – Dir. Gustave Kervern & Benoit Delepine
The Belgian duo collaborate for the seventh time on Saint Amour, playing out of competition in the main line-up. Featuring regular cast members Benoit Poelvoorde and Gerard Depardieu as father and son farmers who go on a road trip, the film is mentioned as an homage to wine tasting and ‘simple folk.’ Notable supporting cast members include Vincent Lacoste and Celine Sallette, and we can expect more of the directors’ particular brand of offbeat comedy.
#3. A Quiet Passion – Dir. Terence Davies
Only a few months after the premiere of his Sunset Song at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival, Terence Davies is back with a portrait of Emily Dickinson starring Cynthia Nixon. Premiering in Berlin as a Special Gala, this imagined portrait of the famously withdrawn poet is drawn from her various correspondences with siblings and clergyman Charles Wadsworth. Co-stars Jennifer Ehle and Keith Carradine.
#2. The End – Dir. Guillaume Nicloux
With his last film, Valley of Love playing in competition at 2015 Cannes, director Guillaume Nicloux returns with another film, The End, reuniting him with Depardieu and premiering in the Forum. A dark fable, the film concerns a man walking into the woods with his dog, soon after encountering strange creatures and other bizarre visions. Nicloux has previously given us fairy-tale fodder, previously with 2005’s The Stone Council. Descriptions of this latest project have been purposefully vague. The film also stars director Xavier Beauvois.
#1. L’avenir (Things to Come) – Dir. Mia Hansen-Love
Topping this most anticipated title is the latest from director Mia Hansen-Love, whose last film Eden (2014) dealt with the early-90s rise of electronic music in France. She returns with another personal perspective tale, L’avenir (Things to Come), starring titan of French cinema Isabelle Huppert as a professor who is suddenly left by her husband and must now face a future she hadn’t prepared for. Previously, Huppert played Hansen-Love’s mother in the 2000 title Les Destinees from Olivier Assayas.